Three Blackpool RNLI volunteers celebrate collective 150 years of service

Lifeboats News Release

Blackpool RNLI volunteers recently celebrated an extraordinary milestone for three of their volunteers. Keith Horrocks MBE, Phil Denham and Bernard Pickard have all been volunteering with the RNLI for 50 years so have collectively given 150 years of service to the charity.


Blackpool RNLI volunteers L-R David Warburton, Colin Lowe, Keith Horrocks, Phil Denham & Shaun Wright

The lifeboat station marked the occasion with a surprise party for the three stalwarts.

Keith Horrocks MBE joined Blackpool RNLI as a teenager, he followed a long line of family members onto the lifeboat crew and progressed quickly from launcher to crewmember and then helm before becoming the station’s volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager in 2013. Keith’s time with the RNLI has been marked by several accolades and honours not least the RNLI bronze medal for gallantry he received for a meritorious service in January 1988 and the MBE for services to the RNLI in 1999.

Phil Denham was also recognised by the RNLI with a bronze medal for gallantry for the rescue he carried out alongside Keith in January 1988. Phil joined the RNLI in 1969 as a teenager and for many years volunteered with the RNLI while also working full time as Deputy Chief of Blackpool Beach Patrol for Blackpool Council. Phil progressed from launcher to helm and is now a volunteer Deputy Launching Authority and the lifeboat station’s volunteer Lifeboat Training Coordinator.

Bernard joined the lifeboat station as a volunteer launcher in 1969, he became Head Launcher and also drove the station’s launch and recovery vehicles. Bernard now serves as the Lifeboat Administration Officer and records vital information during every training exercise and rescue.

Since 1969 when Keith, Phil & Bernard joined the lifeboat station, Blackpool’s RNLI volunteers have launched on 2220 occasions, saved 284 lives and assisted 542 people.

Ian Butter Volunteer Chairman said, ‘committing 50 years of ones’ life to anything is not only remarkable but a rare and notable thing; made all the more significant when one recognises that such unstinting commitment has gone entirely unpaid and, for much of that time, involved Keith, Phil and Bernard putting their own lives at risk.

I think I can speak on behalf of everyone at the lifeboat station in saying that we are all so proud of the achievements of Bernard, Phil and Keith, it is a privilege to be a member of the team in which they are an essential part.’

Keith Horrocks MBE said, ‘during the last fifty years, Bernard, Phil and I have seen many changes at the RNLI and at Blackpool lifeboat station. When we started volunteering, Blackpool had an All Weather Lifeboat, crewmembers did not wear helmets and had minimal personal protective equipment. However, one thing has always stayed the same and that is the selflessness and courage of the crew who launch at a moment’s notice to save the life of someone they have never met before. I am so proud to have been a part of this incredible team of volunteers for the last fifty years.’

Phil Denham added, ‘volunteering for fifty years has been a rewarding experience with many proud moments and memories, both happy and sad, that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Keith, Bernard and I have been called out when we’ve been at weddings, birthday parties and other important family occasions and we would like to thank our families and friends for their support, understanding and patience throughout the years.’

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact Esther Lowe Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, RNLI Blackpool telephone 01253 620424 or email [email protected]


Keith Horrocks, Phil Denham & Bernard Pickard celebrate a collective 150 years of voluntary service

Margaret Murray

Keith Horrocks & Phil Denham at the RNLI Annual Presentation of Awards in 1988 where they were presented with their bronze medals for gallantry


Bernard Pickard


Keith Horrocks


Phil Denham

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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